Are you considering getting a gift for a coffee lover? Or, perhaps, you're the coffee lover and you're hoping for something coffee related this year. In that case, you might do well to get your benefactors reading this.
Skip the Beans
It may seem like the obvious thing would be to simply buy a bag of beans to put under the tree or in their stocking, but here are some considerations that may change that notion.
Unless you are waiting until the very last minute (which is possible since we are talking about Christmas shopping), the coffee you buy will not be within the ideal proximity to roast. Aromatics, which are a tremendous contributor to the coffee experience, start to degrade within the first week. Keep yourself from disappointing with stale coffee.
The Craft Connection At The Roastery
Another reason to skip the beans is that you may be robbing your expert of a very important contact point. The ability to go to a local roaster and grab from the shelf is a wonderful way to connect to one of the most inspiring moments in the coffee craft narrative. The permeating smell of coffee browning, the sense of earnest as the roaster checks the gauges and makes adjustments, and the general feeling of community are all part of the full coffee experience. All told, your coffee lover has no problem actually going to and enjoying the roastery experience.
Finally, the value of decision when considering whole specialty coffee beans should not be downplayed. Navigating options is a very personal thing and settling on one bag from several is an empowering instance much like selecting produce. It is best to leave this to the coffee lover, even if you think you know exactly what they want.
Four Alternatives To Beans
- Gift Cards: Probably the best option is a gift card to their favorite roastery. This avoids all the pitfalls and shows that you (at least appear to) validate their obsession.
- Brew Gear: Another alternative is getting them gear. In order for this to go over well, you will need to know a little more than their favorite shop in town. You need to have some idea of what they are still missing in their coffee brewing arsenal, and you will need to know which of these missing pieces they actually want. It is probably wise to ask one of their friends from their coffee community for ideas, but most coffee geeks are pretty shamelessly vocal about what they feel they still need.
- Literature: There are some really great books out there about coffee. Try searching your favorite online book store and be sure to read the reviews. One of our favorites is James Hoffmann's The World Atlas of Coffee: From Beans to Brewing—Coffees Explored, Explained and Enjoyed. There are also several periodicals that are dedicated to coffee. A subscription to one of these may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Coffee Subscription Services: Maybe your budding specialist is still in the experimental phase, and wants to be able to try anything and everything. There are a few 'coffee subscription' brands that will ship beans at intervals throughout the year. Some of these are connected to a single roastery, rotating through whatever coffees that roastery is carrying, while others utilize a multitude of different roasters from all over the country. Almost like a sort of dating service, these 'multi-roaster' brands are often big on guiding the novice toward roasters they will truly appreciate.
Remember, avoid the beans. Think gift card, brew gear, literature, or subscription. Your coffee lover will be glad you did.